Our Top Beach Getaways for the December Holidays

Leave Father Christmas a forwarding address this year, and soak up some sun on a beautiful beach.

Aruba

Golden beaches in Aruba

With an almost guarantee of perfect weather, Aruba is the ideal destination for sun-soaking. And it has the beaches to match. One of them, Eagle Beach, was even named TripAdvisor’s 3rd best beach in the world. Pop on a mask and snorkel and explore Aruba’s gentle, turquoise waters. There are plenty of excellent snorkeling spots around the island, Boca Catalina, and Malmok are two of them. Away from the beaches, Aruba’s mountains and caves are ideal for those wanting to get active and experience the island’s diverse landscape.

Restrictions: All travellers are required to complete the Dis/embarkation travel card online (ED Card) before being granted entry to Aruba. Visitors who do not have proof of vaccination are required to take a Covid-19 test between 3 days and 4 hours before their arrival. All travellers must purchase the Aruba Visitors Insurance. The ED Card cannot be completed without it.

Bonaire

Admire the flamingos and other wildlife on Bonaire

The island of Bonaire, in the Dutch Caribbean, is a haven for those in search of a pause button. Its unspoiled beauty is emphasised through its preservation efforts – the Washington-Slagbaai National Park is one such example, providing a sanctuary for flamingos, parrots, iguanas, and other land species. Bonaire was the first Caribbean island to have a protected marine park and the diving opportunities are unapparelled. Aside from the vivid corals and kaleidoscopic reef fish, keep an eye out for pods of dolphins, eagle rays, and sea turtles.

Stay: Divi Flamingo Beach Resort

Eat: Brass Boer

Restrictions: Bonaire has a traffic light system in place for travel restrictions. Only those from safe, green listed countries do not need to be tested before arrival. A Health Certificate needs to be completed by all travellers between 72 and 48 hours of departure.

Dominican Republic

Playa el Valle, Samaná

Beaches, beaches, everywhere. The Dominican Republic is home to the Caribbean’s longest beach coastline. At 48km long, you’re guaranteed to get a sun lounger spot. If you’re looking for a wilder side to the Caribbean, then the Samaná Peninsula has it all. Rainforests, untouched beaches, and verdant mountains all play a role in a region that specializes in ecotourism. If you fancy wandering narrow, historical streets past sleek, modern art galleries then head to the capital Santo Domingo to learn more about the Dominican Republic’s culture and history.

Stay: Cosón Bay Hotel and Residences

Eat: Pueblo de los Pescadores

Restrictions: Most travellers do not need to present a negative PCR test on arrival. Travellers from some higher risk countries are required to present either a negative PCR test result no older than 72 hours, or, a complete vaccination card dated no sooner than 3 weeks before arrival. All travellers must complete the electronic exit and entry form.

>> Visit the Maldives – It’s Open!

Seychelles

The Seychelles has plenty of beaches to choose from

The Seychelles archipelago consists of over 100 islands and atolls scattered across the Indian Ocean, enough to keep even the most curious traveller satisfied. The innermost are the main islands which have more amenities. Day trips can be arranged to explore uninhabited atolls such as such as Conception Island which is home to pristine beaches and undisturbed ecosystems. Situated on Curieuse Island is the Curieuse Marine National Park. Here, visitors can enjoy activities such as bird watching, nature trails, snorkeling, and diving. The latter two will introduce you to the breathtaking coral life, and maybe even some sea turtles.

Stay: Hotel L’Archipel

Eat: Moutya

Restrictions: All travellers to the Seychelles must provide a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours before departure. All prospective travellers must apply for Travel Authorization via the Seychelles official site. All arrivals must present proof of sufficient valid travel insurance for the duration of their stay. The Seychelles are open to visitors from all countries except: Brazil, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Cote D’Ivoire & Guinea.

Zanzibar

Relax on pristine white beaches in Zanzibar

If you’re looking for a bit of everything – wildlife, history, gastronomy, and tropical beaches, then head to Zanzibar. Visit Stone Town, a UNESCO world heritage site with a vivid and complex history. Other eye-catching landmarks in Zanzibar town include the Old Dispensary which has a beautiful lattice-work exterior, and the Old Fort, which was built by Omani Arabs in the 17th century. Zanzibar’s beaches each have their own character. On the island of Pemba, in particular, you’ll find a paradisiacal haven. Startlingly white beaches, and lush forests – the tranquility makes it the ideal beach escape.

Stay: Aiyana Resort and Spa

Eat: Pemba Moonlight

Restrictions: All travellers must complete the online registration form before arriving in Zanzibar. All arrivals must present the negative results of a PCR test which is no older than 96 hours prior to arrival. Travellers from, or who have travelled through, higher risk areas will be tested again at their own cost on their arrival (USD25). Children under 5 are exempt from testing requirements.

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How SafeScore Helps Airports Recover

Airports are in trouble. The strong recovery needed to overcome the hurdles put in place by the pandemic is being hurt by a number of factors. Confusion and chaos are reigning king and queen, and not giving travellers the confidence to put their money towards international holidays that they aren’t guaranteed of getting. SafeScore is here to change this.

Chaos at Airports

Re-opening for tourism was never going to be smooth sailing. However, the ease of re-opening might have been underestimated as has been illustrated at a number of airports in recent weeks. Dublin Airport had to issue an apology at the end of August as passengers were required to wait in queues for over 2 hours. Over 100 passengers missed their flights as a result.

In Heathrow International Airport, travellers reported queuing times of over four hours. In fact, the queues were so long, and so poorly managed that some passengers even fainted. The same scene appeared to play out in other airports across the United Kingdom.

In Malaga Airport, in Spain, some passengers reportedly took out their frustration at the long waiting times by knocking down the barriers in the arrivals terminal.

And, in each of these cases, social distancing rules weren’t followed, and there was often little access to food and water.

Why is this happening?

Travel requirements and restrictions are a minefield of confusing, ambiguous, and often misleading information.

Passengers aren’t arriving at the airport with the correct documents, and often aren’t meeting key requirements. Some travellers are denied boarding as they didn’t receive the correct tests. In most cases, customers haven’t completed forms that are recommended to be filled in at home. Why? Because they didn’t know they had to. In Ireland alone, it was reported that two passengers were being denied travel every two hours thanks to incorrect travel information and documentation.

A lack of access to clear, concise, and up-to-date information is one cause to blame for this. In many cases, there is no clear point of contact for the aviation industry to communicate government mandates to its customers. Airport and airline staff, are expected to know specific requirements for exiting, and entering numerous destinations. They haven’t been given the correct tools for the job.

Checking travel details like these take time, and it’s a labourious task – leading to even longer queues. Sometimes airports have been given incorrect information, which they convey to the passengers. SafeScore’s CEO experienced this himself – luckily, he had the correct data to hand.

In fact, UK watchdog, Which? released a study highlighting just how many UK airlines were giving their passengers incorrect, incomplete, or unclear travel information. And, if the passenger fails to meet the requirements at the airport, there is no recourse for a refund – hardly an enticing prospect for a would-be customer.

Travellers are facing delayed flights, and missed flights thanks to chaos at airports

Damaging Recovery

So, how are the queues, and information stumbling blocks hurting airports and airlines?

Queues are the unpleasant reality of the modern world – but when they lead to fines, refunds, and loss of customers, they become a different beast. Whether it’s the airlines facing hefty fines for exceeding their allotted time on the tarmac, or the compensation paid to customers, or irate customers posting on social media, the damage is clear in every corner.

How we Help

SafeScore provides clear, up-to-date, and reliable travel information.

We have all the data airports and airlines need to ensure smoother transitions, and improve the customer experience. Some of the important data points we include are, child PCR testing ages, locator form information, specific vaccine requirements, and more. We are origin and destination-specific, so we tailor our data according to the routes required.

Our API packages are customisable, and our products are concise, and easy to use. We know how long it can take to find the correct information in a government website – nobody wants to queue for that. This is why we’ve made everything straightforward, and accessible with just a few clicks.

Let’s help the travel industry recover, together.

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Off the Tourist Track: Our Top Picks for ‘Undertourism’

At SafeScore, we have nothing against big cities, and big tourist hotspots – we’re a fan of all travel. But, sometimes its good to discover the slightly-less-known, avoid the crowds, and head to the smaller cities.

These are some of our top picks.

Trieste, Italy

If you’re visiting Italy, and want beautiful piazzas, excellent seafood, and aquamarine views, then Trieste will be your spot. Perched on the Adriatic coast, Trieste, is almost entirely surrounded by Slovenia, so you could add another country to your itinerary. As a result of its geography, its cultural history is a melting pot of history, with influences from Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Greece and more. The city was once a great seaport, as is demonstrated by it’s grand waterside architecture. Now, however, it plays a different role. Once you’ve finished playing the tourist, you can admire the rows of elegant white yacht gently bobbing on the water while you sip on your Aperol Spritz.

Albi, France

Located in southern France, and just northeast of Toulouse, is the river-side town of Albi. Infrequently discovered by the usual tourist, Albi offers a picturesque and fascinating visit, without the crowds. The world-renown artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born here in the 19th century. Dive into a world of Belle-Epoque cabarets and circuses at the Toulouse-Lautrec museum. Next door you’ll find the Sainte-Cécile Cathedral, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The episcopal city is a marvel of gothic renaissance architecture, towering over the banks of the Tarn River. Venture further out of the city, and meander through the region’s vineyards, or, take a leisurely boat cruise down the river and see the city from another angle.

>>Autumn vs. Spring: Our Top Picks

São Tomé and Príncipe

Just 6 hours flight from mainland Europe are Africa’s answers to the Galapagos Islands. São Tomé and Príncipe are located on the equator, and serviced by direct flights from Portugal, Ghana, Angola, and Gabon (under usual circumstances). Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find looming volcanic mountains, flocks of endemic bird species, and waterfalls and lakes hidden by the rainforest. One third of São Tomé, the main island, is a national park, making it a unique destination and offering visitors plenty of activities. If you need to unwind, the islands have many fabulous beaches, and the rich marine life will keep you diving, or snorkeling for hours.

The Faroe Islands

If you fancy dramatic landscapes, a sense of mysticism, and plenty of outdoor activities, then head to the Faroe Islands. Out in the wilds of the Atlantic Ocean, these 18 volcanic islands will transport you to another world. The lush green valleys, and turf roofs of the houses will make you think you’ve stepped into J.R.R. Tolkien‘s imagination. Precipitous cliffs thrust waterfalls into the sea, and hiking trails will lead you to panoramic views over lakes and mountains. After a day battling unpredictable weather, relax and enjoy the local music. The haunting ballads are a deeply rooted element of the Faronese culture. When the hiking has given you an appetite, try the local gastronomy scene, which is gaining world traction.

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Dodgy Travel Data can Cost you Thousands, & your Holiday!

Dodgy travel data could be costing passengers thousands, in time and money.

This past weekend, disturbing accounts of passengers’ experiences at Dublin International Airport made the headlines in Irish Newspapers.

Irate passengers quoted “long queues”, “delays” and “laborious forms to fill in” as reasons for the delays. Some passengers had to pay over €100 to reschedule flights and a “a lot of understandably anxious people” have taken to social media to voice their frustrations.

The truth is, all you have to do is visit 3 government websites, 1 airline website, call your travel agent, get a test, pay for fast results, review the vaccine validity windows, get the approved masks, find the passenger locator forms, fill out the passenger locator forms and do that all again when you get back, except from a different country. Not so simple.

Flight arrival board at an airport
Confusing travel data is causing chaos for travellers and the industry

A recurring theme


This isn’t the first bad airport experience story in the last 18 months. From Birmingham to Dubai, thousands have been turned away from check-in desks. Many more have paid for tests that weren’t valid and an unknown number have had to pay for quarantines and tests they never needed. Some have had multiple vaccines, not knowing that their current schedule wouldn’t be accepted in their destination. Airports have the thankless task of enforcing document compliance on behalf of airlines and it is starting to hurt their customers.

Our network in the airports business has told us that many passengers arrive with missing or incomplete documents like passenger locator forms. Sometimes, their tests are too old to fly or they’ve taken the wrong test completely. Some have thought their children didn’t need a test when they did, and some passengers have had children tested who never needed to be tested in the first place. In some cases, airport staff have given the wrong information to passengers, which has taken hours to resolve, causing queue buildups and further frustrations.

In many cases the root cause is that passengers simply don’t have a single point of reference for their travel requirements. Government websites aren’t always reliable and restrictions come and go faster than a toupee in a hurricane. Accurate and up-to-date travel data, that anticipates both the passenger’s and the government’s requirements is the key to solving this problem.

Take a deep breath

At SafeScore, we have built a simple, customer-facing widget for airlines and airports to add to their apps and websites. Everything from child testing ages to quarantine requirements, and vaccine validity is clearly, and easily available. We’ve even provided the passenger locator forms too. We’ve purpose-built the tool, allowing you to show exactly what a passenger needs before travelling and what they will need on return.

Informed passengers move through airports faster, get to the lounge quicker and help raise net promoter scores. Passengers need airport and airline support, now more than ever. Airlines and airports need satisfied and happy customers now more than ever. SafeScore can provide this support, with just 3 clicks.

Contact us to find out how.

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Ethical Travelling in a Covid World

It is vital that tourism is given a clear path to recovery, particularly for developing nations. However, ethical travelling is equally as important – visitors must be sensitive to the new demands, pitfalls, and intricacies now present in the communities they travel to.

I recently took an online trip to the seven “New Wonders of the World”, triggered by a nostalgia for the travel I used to do prior to the advent of Covid. It struck me that all of the countries where these wonders are located have been significantly affected by the virus. Peru (Machu Picchu), Brazil (Christ the Redeemer), Italy (Colosseum), Mexico (Chichen Itza), and Jordan (Petra) all have seen death rates of over 1% of those infected in the population, according to Worldometers. Meanwhile, India (Taj Mahal) has also suffered hugely, and China (Great Wall) was the epicentre of the original outbreak.

Aside from the obvious direct human cost, the economic impact has been horrendous too (as will be knock-on health and social effects that will inevitably follow). For example, according to the Peruvian government tourist bureau in Cusco in January 2021, Covid has been devastating for the local population. An estimated 92% of those previously employed in the tourist industry having lost their jobs. These include families providing homestays, women’s collectives weaving ponchos and other textiles, and native guides. Prior to Covid-19, community-focused travel such as this, was on the rise, and we must, with the resumption of tourism, shine the spotlight on ethical travelling once again.

In Mexico, where 11 million people rely on tourism for their livelihoods, it is a similar story. The slump in visitor numbers combined with little or no government support has seen many slip into unemployment and poverty. Further afield, entrance ticket sales to international tourists to Angkor Wat fell 97% over the past year. An estimated 51,000 tourist jobs (and nearly 3,000 local businesses) have been lost during the pandemic, according to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism.  

Ethical travelling requires sympathy to those who have suffer huge losses thanks to the pandemic.
The pandemic has had devastating effects on every level of tourism, such as this women’s collective, which weaves ponchos

Tourism’s Recovery – a sensitive balance

From an ethical perspective, what can and should an overseas traveller do to help people faced with such economic devastation in developing countries? As border restrictions are eased, and vaccine roll outs reach deeper into the population, this question has been puzzling me (in my case I live in the UK). Communities desperately short of tourist income may be very keen to welcome international visitors. For tourist enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy and families facing hardship, the opportunity to relaunch shuttered businesses may be welcome, allowing people to earn revenue once more.  

However, sensitivity is needed, since some communities may also be grieving Covid’s impact.  Although they might welcome economic support, compassion for their potential recent trauma is appropriate as well. Holidays are typically a time for joyful relaxation, but it would be worth tempering some behaviours to respect local sentiments. Furthermore, locals may be fearful of future outbreaks of the virus and the impact of these. Tourists fleeing various restrictions back home could endear themselves by ensuring they comply with those in place at their destination. There is a need for the tourist to take personal responsibility for their compliance to local rules, such as mask mandates and social distancing. Ethical travelling starts with the traveller.

SafeScore can help travellers make informed decisions about when are where to go, based on up-to-date, accurate Covid data.  However, tourists can also benefit from conversations with local travel agents and guides to understand what is “appropriate tourism” in this complex time.

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Autumn vs. Spring: Our top seasonal getaways

Depending on where you find yourself in the world, winter and summer are on the out. It’s the time of year where seasonal changes are at their most obvious. Bursts of colour are springing out of the ground in the Southern Hemisphere, while leaves are crisping and turning red in the Northern Hemisphere. So, will it be autumn or will it be spring?

These are our picks for a seasonal getaway.

Autumn

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is a thing of beauty all year round, but, in autumn, the leaves seem designed to match the medieval architecture. Discover the rich history of the city as you float down the winding canals alongside bevies of swans. Take in Bruges from above in the famous Belfry, in the Market Square (Markt). At 83 metres high, it is the city’s most prominent building, and offers unparalleled views over Bruges’ gables. The entire medieval inner city is a UNESCO world heritage site, and it’s easy to see why. The rich merchants who lived here in the 15th century built houses to last, leaving behind for us, historical beauty, dappled with red ivy leaves. From museums, to bridge hopping, and a stop in a local brewery, Bruges has something for everyone.

Restrictions in Bruges: All accommodation, dining venues, attractions and tours are open. Masks must be worn in public spaces. Some spaces have smaller capacities for guests, so it is advised to check, and book, in advance.

Bavaria, Germany

Medieval buildings, dark forests, misty mountains? No, this isn’t the set of Beauty and the Beast, it’s the landlocked state of Bavaria, in Germany. As it is the largest state in Germany, a trip will require some planning. The main cities, Munich, Nuremburg, and Augsburg offer a wealth of history. Augsburg is in fact Germany’s third oldest city, as it was founded in 15 BCE by the Romans. Here, head to the decadent Schaezler Palace, built in the 18th century, and home to the works of Rubens and Tiepolo.

In Munich, once you’ve exhausted the inner city sights, take a stroll under crimson trees in the English Garden. The park is larger than Central Park in New York, so you’ll probably want to make a stop at the beer garden halfway through. Escape to another realm just under 2 hours from Munich, and visit Neuschwanstein Castle. Surrounded by forest, it’s easy to see how the castle served as inspiration for Walt Disney. Forests cover much of Bavaria, so save some time for nature walking to really get that autumnal feel.

Restrictions in Bavaria: FFP2 masks are a mandatory requirement in all public spaces that are not open air. Children under 16 can wear any nose and mouth covering, and children under 6 are exempt. Germany has implemented the ‘3G’ rule for access to venues such as indoor restaurants, hotels, and attractions.  This means, persons wishing to use these facilities must provide proof of one of the following: geimpft, genesen, getestet (vaccinated, recovered, tested). It’s advised to make reservations in advance as many venues have capacity limits.

Vermont, United States of America

Probably up there with the most famous autumnal destinations, Vermont’s seasonal change is nothing short of spectacular. The state comes alive during these months, and visitors can enjoy harvesting festivals, pumpkin patches and more. If you want to learn about Vermont’s history and culture, there are many museums and galleries to choose from, such as the Vermont History Museum, or the M. Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville. Outdoors lovers will be spoiled for choice, as Vermont has fishing, camping, rock climbing and more. Take a road trip thought Vermont’s winding byways, and discover small historic towns, surrounded by golden-hued forests. Leave some room in your itinerary to sample the local gastronomy. Vermont is known for its craftsmanship, and locally produces everything from beer to ice cream, maple syrup, and artisanal cheeses.

Restrictions in Vermont: All business, gathering, and travel related restrictions have been lifted in Vermont. While it is no longer mandatory to wear a mask, some businesses maintain stricter policies and can decline service if one is not worn.

Spring

Western Cape, South Africa

Think spring, and you’ll think bulbs blooming and colour re-emerging. In the province of the Western Cape, in South Africa, you’ll find flowers blooming, and ideal weather. Unlike other regions of the country, the Western Cape experiences heavy rains during its winter months. So, when spring arrives in September, areas of the province are blanketed with wildflowers. Although a flash-in-the-pan event, (the blooms tend to fade by the end of September) the riot of colour draws annual visitors. One of the best places to see them, while enjoy blue skies and beautiful landscapes, is in the West Coast National Park. Situated just over an hour from Cape Town, visitors can book overnight cottages in the park itself, or travel further up the coast to the picturesque town of Paternoster – known for its blue and white colour scheme.

If you’d prefer to stay within Cape Town’s reach, then pay a visit to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, where you can enjoy more manicured, yet equally beautiful, spring blooms. As the winter wanes, Cape Town’s cold evenings grow warmer, and lighter – ideal for sundowners at a rooftop bar. Or, take a hike on one of the city’s many peaks, such as Lion’s Head, or Table Mountain, to watch the sky glow, and the sun dip into the sea.

Restrictions in the Western Cape: It is a legal requirement to wear a face mask in public places in South Africa – even when outdoors. Bars, Restaurants, and attractions are open, but operate at a limited capacity, so booking in advance is required. Establishments close at 21h00, as there is a 22h00 curfew in place.

The Serengeti, Tanzania

From flora, to fauna – Tanzania’s spring season sees herds of animals migrate throughs its plains. The Serengeti National Park spans the northern part of the country, and is nearly 15,000 square kilometres in size. Winter into spring are the park’s dry months, and the ideal time for safari trips and game spotting, especially as the vegetation stays low and thin, allowing you more visibility. Although not the only perk of the park, but definitely the most famous, is the Great Migration of the Wildebeest, which takes place annually across Tanzania and Kenya. From July to October, animals frequently gather around rivers and watering holes, and, the wildebeest tend to make regular river crossings across the Mara River to the north of the park.

If you’re feeling energetic (and fit!), then this time of year is also ideal to climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilamanjaro. The spring months mean hikers can enjoy blue skies and beautiful views with fewer fellow visitors – provided they don’t mind a few light showers.

Restrictions in the Serengeti: Practicing social distancing and wearing masks is mandatory in Tanzania.

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Top Romantic Getaways – Our Picks

There has never been a better to reconnect with your other half. So, escape Covid-19 fatigue and your overused Netflix profile and head off on one of these romantic getaways.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

If you’re into romantic walks, art deco architecture and a melting pot of history, then Budapest is a must. The city is divided into two by the Danube; Buda and Pest each have their own culture and identity. Pest combines the old-world glamour of Andrássy Avenue with contemporary museums, nightclubs and the elegant Opera House. In Buda you will find cobbled streets and Turkish baths and more.

See the city via various modes of transport. On foot allows for surprising discoveries around every corner, while a nighttime cruise up the Danube, admiring the city lights is an obvious recipe to romance. If you do choose to walk though, take note: Buda is hilly and Pest is flat, so choose your footwear wisely.

Official language: Hungarian; English and German are also widely spoken

Best times to visit: From March to May and September to November as the weather is mild and, under normal circumstances, there aren’t too many tourists.

Plockton and surrounds, the Scottish Highlands

Plockton, in the Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands hold a wealth of beauty. From quaint villages, to breathtaking architecture, evocative ruined castles, and dramatic landscapes – it’s no wonder it’s on many a dream travel list. Start as you mean to go on and visit the ‘Jewel of the Highlands’, the delightful village of Plockton.

Although small, there are over 50 accommodation options to choose from, whether you prefer B&B, self catering, or a charming hotel. Plockton is a National Trust for Scotland conservation village so the heritage of the village is well preserved. With spectacular landscapes, overlooking Loch Carron, spend your mornings sailing and your afternoons browsing the many galleries or enjoying local live music. Plockton’s ideal location at the heart of the highlands give the visitor easy access to explore further. Head north and explore the fascinating Isle of Sky – the largest in the Inner Hebrides – home to fossils, castles, and a Fairy Glen.

Official Language: English

Best times to Visit: All year round if you don’t mind the weather, although it gets more crowded in the Summer months.

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

A far-cry from blustery Scottish mountains, are the grasslands of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. One of the most important preserved areas of wildlife in the world, the lies to the southwest in Kenya, not far from the Tanzanian border. The reserve’s landscapes, offer visitors views of rolling hills, grassy savannahs, and it’s world renown for its large wildlife populations, including lions, cheetahs, elephants, and hippos. Perhaps most famous, is the annual Wildebeest migration which takes place between July and October. One of the most breathtaking natural events in the world, it is one of the few remaining mass wildlife movements on the planet.

After a day admiring nature, watch the African sunset light the sky red at one of the many tented camps throughout the reserve. These range in style, from family friendly and basic, to luxury lodges with a swimming pool. Either way, returning to nature is a great way to escape Covid fatigue.

Official Language: Swahili and English

Best Times to Visit: All year round, although the migration is between July and October

Anguilla, the British Caribbean

The island of Anguilla, British Caribbean

Forget your phone charger at home, Anguilla is the ultimate place to unwind and reconnect. The island is home to 33 beaches, giving you plenty of choice for some peace and quiet. As turquoise water gently laps the sand, lay back and enjoy the sun, dappled by swaying palm leaves – few rival it for relaxation. If you want to look into the cultural side of the island, Anguilla’s history is fascinating – find out more about it and the island’s culture in the local galleries and at live music shows.

Stay active, and enjoy golf, sailing, tennis, and, as you’re surrounded by seas rich in marine life, snorkeling. Lay your head in a charming boutique hotel, larger all-inclusive resorts, or an apartment – Anguilla has something for every taste.

Official Language: English

Best Times to Visit: February to April if you want to miss the rain. Hurricane season tends to run from June to September.

See Also: Outdoor Travel, Our Top Picks

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Locator Forms: What are they and how do you find them?

If you’ve heard us saying it once, you’ve heard us saying it many times – inconsistent international travel regulations are confusing for travellers and present unnecessary hurdles to the recovery of travel. And now Passenger Locator Forms are doing their bit to further muddy the waters.

Last week we published a piece on how our CEO was nearly forced to pay 2,000 in quarantine fees, because the airports had the incorrect information. This week we heard of yet another instance of how poorly communicated and confusing travel information is putting a spoke in the wheels of travel recovery, and preventing passengers from flying.

One of SafeScore’s subscribers spoke to us about how confusion over locator forms caused a delay on her flight of over an hour. Transiting through a key EU hub, she experienced chaos and endless queues because other passengers simply weren’t prepared with the correct documents.

Time is money, airlines are fined for delays, business travellers lose work hours, and travel is stressful enough as it is.

So, what are locator forms, where do you find them, and who needs you to fill them in?

What are Locator Forms?

Passenger locator forms (PLFs), capture your personal details in case of a positive Covid-19 case on a journey. Normally these forms require you to provide the following information:

  • Full name and passport details
  • Contact details, including phone number and email address
  • Travel details, including flight numbers, dates, and times
  • Your address in the country you’re travelling to

Each country has different protocols for their PLFs, and some may ask you to upload PCR test results, or vaccination documents as well. The requirements for forms for minors varies per country – we would suggest checking with your destination. We also strongly suggest travelling with both a printed and a digital copy of your form.

Airports are busy places, fill in the Locator Forms in advance to ensure a smooth process
Skip busy queues in the airport, come prepared.

Where can I find Locator Forms?

In the current travel climate, it is safer to assume that all countries require locator forms. Even if it isn’t the case, at least you’ve saved yourself the extra worry!

If your journey has been booked via a travel agent, then they should direct you to the correct form requirements. Even if they do so, we advise double checking with an official website in your destination to ensure that you have the correct paperwork.

If you are booking your journey yourself, most airlines should direct you to the relevant passenger locator form at some point in the booking process. This is particularly true if you’re flying with your destination’s national carrier (for example, flying British Airways to London, Heathrow). If you don’t see anything about a PLF in this process, then take a look at the airline’s Covid-19 page for more information.

A good example of how to access the PLF page via the airline website can be seen here on British Airways’ Covid-19 page.

If you’ve had no luck with these options, then you can usually also find the forms via government sites – we’ve included some links to PLFs for some European destinations below.

>> Austria Lifts Quarantine for the UK, South Africa, and others

Passenger Exit Forms

A few countries also require passengers to complete exit forms on departure. These should also be found on your airline website, but if not, we would advise checking in advance.

Passengers have been bumped for not carrying Locator Forms - like this flight, make sure you get to land in your destination
Reach your destination smoothly with the correct documentation

Some Key Links to Locator Forms

Each country has different entry protocols, and often, different locator forms. That being said though, here are some links for travellers to key destinations in Europe.

The EU: The European Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) has been designed to facilitate travel throughout the EU. It is currently used by Italy, Malta, and Slovenia.

United Kingdom: All travellers to the UK are required to fill in their details via the government website. The Passenger Locator Form can be found here.

Ireland: Ireland’s PLF can be found here. More details on requirements can be found on government’s webpage here.

Austria: If you are arriving from a virus variant country, then you will be required to register online via the Pre-Travel Clearance Portal. Non-vaccinated travellers from a country not on either the safe list or the virus variant list must also register via the portal. Children under 12 do not need to register.

Belgium: If you are travelling to Belgium for more than 48 hours then you must complete the Passenger Locator Form here. This form must be completed at least 48 hours before your arrival in Belgium.

Cyprus: The CyprusFlightPass PLF can be found here.

France: France requires all passengers entering or leaving the country submit a Certificate of International Travel found here.

Germany: If you spent time in a high-risk country in the 14 days prior to your journey Germany then you are required to register online via the Ministry of Health’s website. The Digital Registration for Entry can be found here.

The Netherlands: The Netherlands requires all travellers arriving by air to complete the Health Declaration form and to carry it with them on their trip. It is available as PDF via the government site, and some airlines may have a digital version.

Portugal: Portugal’s Passenger Locator Card can be found here.

Switzerland: All arrivals by air must complete the Entry Form found on the site for the Federal Office of Public Health.

Spain: All travellers Spain must complete the form found on Spain’s Travel Health website 48 hours before their trip begins. Children under 12 aren’t required to register.

Turkey: All travellers to Turkey must complete this form at least 72 hours before arriving in the country: Form for Entry to Turkey.

Don’t be caught out at the last minute – double check all your documents in advance!

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Outdoor Travel – Our Top Picks

It’s been a long year and a half, inside and online. Now, as the world is starting to re-open for tourism, we take a look at our top picks for outdoor travel. We’re only bringing you countries that are currently open for tourism, or will soon be.

Consider our outdoor travel list for the entry-level outdoorsperson – you won’t need to fish out your grappling hooks when heading to these destinations. Get ready for a whole lot of fresh air!

Austria

A couple of hikers look over a lake in Switzerland
Austria’s mountain trails have something for every level of experience

Austria dominates the winter sports scene, and has a wealth of ski resorts to choose from. If you visit in the warmer months though, the verdant mountains provide the perfect backdrop for walking, hiking, cycling and more. For example, if you try the highly rated Seespitz from Gleinkersee trail, you’ll pass through alpine pastures, and thick forests. And, if it’s hot, cool down with a swim in the Gleinkersee lake, or, have a snack at one of the inns dotted along its shores.

If you’re a seasoned climber, or just starting out, Austria’s mountains have something for every capability. If you prefer to be near water then you’re in luck as Austria is home to number of beautiful lakes. In Tirol, you’ll find Achensee Lake where you can spend your days surfing, sailing and diving, whilst surrounded by mountains. Between Upper Austria and SalzburgerLand, there’s Wolfgangsee Lake – its chocolate-box villages will certainly give your photography game a boost. Take the vintage cable car up the mountain for even more spectacular views.

Travel Info: Anyone entering Austria must provide either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery, or a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours. Travellers arriving from ‘safe’ countries do not need to self-isolate. Vaccinated travellers from ‘other’ countries are also exempt from quarantine rules. Non-vaccinated travellers must self-isolate for 10 days with a test to release on day 5. Children under 12 are exempt from testing.

>> Austria Lifts Quarantine Requirements

Ireland

Ireland must be on every outdoor travel bucket list
Cycle through the forests of Wicklow Mountains National Park

When you’re known as the Emerald Isle, outdoor travel is going to be a specialty. Ireland has a little bit of everything, from the beaches to the mountains, to forests, you’ll have your pick. Of course, the weather can be unreliable, but, with a good raincoat, an invigorating hike will whet the appetite for a pint of Guinness by a roaring fire. Ireland’s wealth of hiking and walking trails are of varying lengths, so can cater to all capabilities and time frames. If you’re a confident hiker and happy to build up a sweat, then head to Waterford and try the Coumshingaun Lake Walk. Around 5 hours, this hike takes you through forest, and up into the mountains, offering unrivalled views of the country surrounds. The pristine lake, protected by an amphitheatre of mountains makes this hike all the more breathtaking. Alternatively, hire a bike, and cycle through the beautiful dappled forests of Wicklow Mountains National Park.

Head to the picturesque town of Dingle, in County Kerry, where you can combine exploring the warmth and beauty of the area with getting out on the ocean. Here, you can kitesurf, dive, sail, kayak and more. The area is abundant with marine life, and sea safaris such as Dingle Sea Safari are an ideal way to see the beautiful coastline and all its islands, caves and crags. The Dingle peninsula is also home to some spectacular walking and hiking trails for those who prefer to stay on solid ground.

Travel Info: Arrivals must have a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours, unless they have been vaccinated or have recovered and are arriving from a ‘safe’ country. Travellers from ’emergency brake’ countries (with higher Covid-19/variant incidences) can skip quarantine provided they are fully vaccinated. All arrivals to the Republic of Ireland must complete the Passenger Locator Form before travelling.

Rwanda

Rwanda's National Parks provide the perfect tour for an outdoor travel itinerary
From grasslands to rainforests, Rwanda’s National Parks have something for everyone

Rwanda is the ultimate bucket list destination. If you’re looking for a change of scenery, and to get outside, then you can’t do better than this. A topographical melting pot, Rwanda is home to savannahs, volcanoes and rainforests. An emerging safari destination, the country has recently become home, once again, to the big 5. Rwanda has four national parks, each with their unique landscapes and biodiversity. Visitors can choose to visit just one, or take outdoor travel to the next level and plan a tour to see them all.

The Volcanoes National Park is the ultimate outdoors adventure. In the northwest of the country, towering volcanic peaks emerge from the mists of the rainforest. This park is home to the endangered mountain gorilla, which you can track through the undergrowth with the help of experienced guides. As the trees sing with over 200 species of birds, visitors can canoe, mountain bike and visit local villages. For an entirely different landscape, go to Akagera National Park in the eastern part of Rwanda. The low-lying land is made up of grasslands, wetlands, and forests and gives visitors the opportunity to see the Big 5 as well as a myriad of bird and buck species. Nile crocodiles and hippos wallow in the many lakes – visitors can see them in their element from either a tour-operated drive, or a self drive.

Travel Info: All travellers must provide a PCR test no older than 72 hours. They will be tested again on arrival and required to wait for the results at a designated hotel – this will be a maximum of 24 hours. The tests are at the traveller’s own cost and are USD50 with a USD10 service fee. All passengers are required to complete a Passenger Health Locator Form prior to arrival in Rwanda. Children under 5 are exempt from testing requirements.

>> Where Can South Africans go on Holiday?

Slovenia

Slovenia is ideal for both cultural and outdoor travel with its blend of history and nature
Hike the mountains in the Julian Alps, or enjoy water-based activities along the coast near Piran

Can’t choose between Riviera-style dining along the coast, or hiking in Alpine mountains? Slovenia has it all, and in a relatively small space, allowing travellers to see more in less time. To the south, the country’s tiny coastline (just over 46km long), will make you feel like you’re in Italy, which you nearly are as Trieste is just across the border. In Piran, Slovenia’s main ‘Mediterranean town’, escape to nature in Strunjan Nature Park. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Adriatic, you’ll be afforded fabulous views, whether you stay over night in the reserve, or just visit for the day.

If you want to prioritize hiking while in Slovenia, then the 10,000+ kilometers of marked trails will make planning easy. The Julian Alps offer rugged terrain for varying degrees of mountaineering aptitude, while the Karavanke Alps have some gentler routes. Take for example, the Stari Grad Castle Hill hike, which takes you up to castle ruins with magnificent panoramic views. It takes less than 30 minutes to ascend, so it’s easy to fit into an afternoon trip and suitable for families. Finish off a long day’s walk with a rest at one of Slovenia’s many wellness spas and resorts and you’ll be fit to take on the next mountain. There’s no reason why outdoor travel can’t include a spa day!

Travel Info: Slovenia is open for tourism for arrivals from EU and Schengen Area states, as well as third party ‘safe’ countries. Arrivals must submit either, a negative PCR test (72 hours), a Rapid Antigen Test (48 hours), proof of recovery certification, or proof of vaccination. The proof of recovery must be older than 10 days and not older than 6 months. Vaccinated travellers must have received the full dose, unless they also have a recovery certificate, in which case 1 dose is accepted. If none of these documents can be provided then the traveller will either be denied entry, or required to quarantine for 10 days. All travellers to Slovenia must complete the Passenger Locator Form before arrival.

South Africa

South Africa’s coastline combines hiking with spectacular views

South Africa is a large country with vastly different landscapes across its provinces. In the north of the country, wildlife and game reserves are abundant – the Kruger National Park being the most famous, but the Pilanesberg National Park also offers great game sightings slightly closer to Johannesburg. Book a stay in one of the many game lodges and enjoy guided walks and professional game drives. In the north east coast of the country is Kwazulu-Natal. This province is home to the Drakensburg, a mountain range on the border with Lesotho. Famous for its beauty, hikes, and rock art, this area is ideal for an outdoors enthusiast, and a must-do on any outdoor travel itinerary.

Head down the coast, passing famous surfing spots such as Jeffrey’s Bay, and eventually you’ll reach the Garden Route – one of the most scenic drives in the world. Stop for a day hike in the Garden Route, or Tsistikamma National Parks. If you’re feeling brave, trying bungee jumping off of Bloukrans, Africa’s highest bridge. The Western Cape is filled with mountain ranges for every type of hiker. Start with the most famous, and hike up Table Mountain. Or head to the water and go kayaking or snorkeling with the seals. In Gansbaai, get up close and personal with Great White Sharks, or, head up the West Coast to enjoy the bright, white beaches dotted with wild flowers.

Travel Info: All arrivals must present a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours and from an accredited laboratory and signed by the medical practitioner administering the test.

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Confusing Restrictions, Pricey Quarantine – how SafeScore saved me €2000

It’s no secret that travel is unnecessarily complicated right now. What does seem to be a secret, however, is reliable and accurate data on restrictions, as I recently learned on a trip from Noumea (New Caledonia) to Dublin (Ireland). Thanks to SafeScore, confusing restrictions and expensive quarantine costs didn’t get the better of me.

Rule Number One: Be Prepared

Man watches plane take off from airport window as the sun sets
Confusing restrictions can be a thing of the past

My route takes 37 hours to travel, with stops in Tokyo and Paris and relies on 2 airlines. Current restrictions mean the flight is only available once per week, meaning any slip-up on documents along the way could mean another week away from home. Being prepared is key, and armed with my negative PCR test I knew I was ready to go. 

The first issue I faced on this route was checking in at Noumea Airport. The staff advised me that without a vaccine, I would need proof of a hotel booking in Dublin for the 14 days’ quarantine. This advice didn’t match what I read in SafeScore only 2 days earlier. I challenged this assumption and even asked the check-in staff which platform they were using to advise their passengers and was shocked to be told it was IATA Timatic.

I quickly opened my SafeScore account on my laptop, clicked ‘Ireland’ and was redirected to the citizens info page which clearly showed that no vaccine is required, but a negative PCR test and home quarantine is sufficient.

I showed them the site, and the wording. They called their manager. We’re now 20 minutes at the desk, and I’ve got my credit card ready in case I’m wrong. The manager arrived and she reviewed the data. She reviewed their platform and with a couple more phone calls she typed something into their computer and gave me the ‘nod’. I was clear to go. SafeScore – 1 confusing restrictions – 0.

I arrived in the lounge and breathed a deep sigh of relief and drank a deep sip of champagne. But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.

Confusing Restrictions are an International Problem

Sunset view out of a plane window
SafeScore makes the sun set on confusing restrictions

8 hours and a deep sleep later I arrived fresh in the land of the 2020 Olympics.

I knew from SafeScore that Tokyo airport was allowing transfers (great!) for certain routes and that a negative PCR was required (check!). I also knew transfers may take longer than expected due to the upcoming Olympic games and resigned myself to long queues and delays.

The airport was empty, the queues were short and disembarking was easy. Getting from immigration to the transfer area, not so much.

After transfer security, all the passengers from our flight were greeted by Airport staff holding whiteboards with 3 names on them. Mine was one of them. Here we go again!

I presented myself to the team and they asked me to show proof of a hotel booking for quarantine in Dublin, proof of negative PCR results and my passport. I explained, as I did in Noumea, that unvaccinated travellers do not need hotel quarantine when arriving from non-designated countries, but was met with blank stares, clearly confusing restrictions are international. Again, I got the credit card ready and the laptop.

My case was escalated to the duty manager, and I was asked to wait until called to the desk. Luckily my transfer time was 4 hours, because I spent 45 minutes at the transfer desk, with my laptop and SafeScore challenging the restrictions.

I shared the URLs, screenshots and even showed them SafeScore. Eventually I was allowed to board (credit card still holstered) and breathed another deep sigh of relief and took another deep sip of champagne as we took off.

Paris Charles de Gaulle was throbbing and I was thrilled to see so many people travelling, transferring and shopping in the duty free areas again. This would be my 12th international flight during the pandemic and for the first time things started to look promising again. 6 hours in a lounge, and a 1 hour hop to Dublin later, I touched down and was met with Ireland’s friendly and welcoming immigration team.

“Do you have a negative PCR test?” She asked?
“Yes”, I said.

“Welcome home”.

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